March 28, 2023
Melinda Head

The Masters at Augusta

Steeped in history, steeped in controversy

Golfer or not, everyone knows that the Masters = golf, big time.

The Masters has been held every Spring since 1934 (except when it was cancelled due to WWII), during the first week of April. It will be held again this year, from April 6-9.

In 1930, at age 28, American amateur golfer/lawyer Bobby Jones bought a 365 acre commercial nursery in Augusta, Georgia, for $70,000 with former traveling clothing salesman and investment dealer Clifford Roberts. Together, they created an exclusive golf club, with an Alister MacKenzie designed course, and named it Augusta National.

Golfer Bobby Jones and Financier Clifford Roberts

In its day, Augusta was a white man’s domain. Period. All golfers were white and all caddies were black. The invitational event excluded black players for four decades, until Lee Elder became the first black tournament participant in 1975. Twenty-two years later Tiger Woods became the first black man to win the Masters in 1997. The first black Club member was Ron Townsend (1990), 57 years after the Club first opened. The first woman, former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, was admitted to the Club in 2012, 79 years after the first tee-off. As they say in the South, changes at Augusta National have been “slower than cream rising on buttermilk”.

Caddy Carl Jackson. When caddying became a lucrative profession, white men stepped in to replace them

Lee Elder, the first black golfer permitted to play golf at Augusta National. Tiger Woods was the first black man to win the Masters, after Lee Elder paved the way for him to compete at Augusta.

Former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, was the first woman permitted to join Augusta National

Despite its racist and misogynistic history, the Masters has become one of the world’s most prestigious sporting events.

If you’re lucky enough to land a ticket to the event, be prepared to be prohibited from using your cell phone and/or camera, with information about what’s going on limited to sporadic leader boards. The only user-engagement will be your old-fashioned eye balls connecting with people and objects on the course. Sadly, the Masters’ iconic Georgia peach ice-cream sandwich will not be offered to attendees this year (again), due to supply-chain issues.

By invitation only, the tournament will pay out $15 million this year. In addition to winning a gold medal and having one’s name engraved on the coveted Masters trophy (since 1961), there is the famous (ugly) green jacket (introduced in 1949) that comes with the accolades, as well as a lifetime invitation to the Masters, and automatic invitations to the other 3 tournaments that make up the “majors” (U.S. Open, British Open, PGA Championship) for the following 5 years.

Last year Scottie Scheffler had his name engraved on the silver Masters trophy. Here’s every shot he made:

Born in New Jersey and raised in Texas, Scheffler is 26 years old. He grew up in a modern family with a stay-at-home father and mother who wears the pants in the family as Chief Operating Officer of a law firm. He did the American thing and married his high school sweetheart, Meredith Scudder.  

High school sweethearts tie the knot …

Hats off to Scheffler’s 88 year old grandmother who walked the entire TCP Sawgrass course to see him play this past weekend … and, rumour says, provided some great home-cooking afterwards.

What’s this year’s controversy? The PGA LIV controversy (which we covered in June 2022). After a highly publicized rivalry, 17 breakaway LIV Golf Series golfers have been invited to tee up in Augusta alongside committed PGA Tour golfers.

“Regrettably, recent actions have divided men’s professional golf by diminishing the virtues of the game and the meaningful legacies of those who built it. Although we are disappointed in these developments, our focus is to honor the tradition of bringing together a preeminent field of golfers this coming April.” (Fred Ridley, Masters Tournament Chairman)

Now the question is: who will show up and what tensions will be revealed?

Let’s face it, sport is a cut-throat business. I predict everyone will show up. Top level athletes care about winning more than politics. They never look backward, only forward.

As you prepare for the Tournament, make sure you’ve seen “Full Swing”, now streaming on Netflix. From the same folks who created the wildly successful series “Formula 1: Drive to Survive”, “Full Swing” is a documentary series that follows a group of professional golfers during a grueling season of competition, including the Masters.

Or, if you’re looking for a few laughs to lighten the tension before the Masters, revisit these hilarious golf comedy routines.

Now take what you’ve learned and play today’s “Masters at Augusta” Quiz of the Day:

1. Download Quizefy app.

2. 250 free gems will be instantly deposited in your name

3. Start playing immediately for free

4. Have fun and Strut Your Smart!

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About the Author

A serial entrepreneur, Melinda is a sociologist and statistician who believes there is no currency with greater value than knowledge

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